Lubeck Town Hall - History and Facts | History Hit

Lubeck Town Hall

Lubeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Lubeck Town Hall is a picturesque medieval building which began as a thirteenth century cloth hall.

Peta Stamper

19 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lubeck Town Hall

Lübeck Town Hall (Lübecker Rathaus) is an incredible medieval structure which began as a 13th century cloth hall. One of Germanyy’s most famous brick Gothic buildings, Lübeck Town Hall was added to over the centuries. Today, several original aspects can still be seen, including the gables and parts of the facade.

Lubeck Town Hall history

Lübeck’s original town hall dating back to 1225 was known as the Lohhaus. By 1250, the hall was being used as a tannery, handily located on the northwest corner of the Hanseatic city’s thriving market. Lübeck was at the time ‘Queen of the Hanseatic League’, guided by its mayor. The ‘Hanse’ were a group of merchants who, through the League’s special privileges, traded together.

A new Romanesque town hall of 3 gables was built around 1240. After a city fire in 1251 considerable renovations were carried out. In particular, the southern gables were combined creating a monumental shield wall in the early Gothic style. The building functions were also reorganised: the council rooms were moved into the cloth hall which shifted the cloth trade to the vaulted cellar.

The central courtyard had niches for traders, but was later covered and used for storage when the ornate long house facing the market was built around 1298. Within an open vaulted hall the goldsmiths operated as vaulted cellars underneath continued to house the cloth trade. The ‘lion hall’ on the upper floor was used as a council hall and ballroom.

During the 1570s, the Renaissance style made its mark on Lübeck’s Town Hall, replacing the exposed Gothic shield wall with an impressive sandstone bower. A beautiful Renaissance staircase led to an impressive war room. The name of the town hall, Hansesaal, reflected the dominant presence of the Hanseatic League as part of Lübeck’s economy and political character, even making decisions on war and peace.

In the 19th century the Hansesaal was replaced by office space and with the construction of the Citizen’s Hall, the stock exchange hall disappeared. In March 1942 during heavy air raids, the war room was destroyed.

Lubeck Town Hall today

Even today, Lübeck’s Town Hall continues to serve as the city’s administrative headquarters and meeting place of the city parliament. The halls are open to visit by guided tours, a highlight being the splendid Audience Hall, decorated in the lush Rococo style of 1755 depicting the virtues of a good government.

The Audience Hall with 2 doorways of different heights showed the verdict of any judgement by forcing the convicted to lower their heads. You can also grab a bite at the Ratskeller restaurant, which occupies the former space of the cloth trade in the vaulted cellars and is one of North Germany’s oldest eateries.

Getting to Lubeck Town Hall

The easiest way to reach Lübeck Town Hall is via bus: Kohlmarkt stop at the market serves bus routes 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 15, 16, and more. Lübeck Schüsselbuden stop is on routes 4, 10, 11, 21, 30, 31 and more. There is 24 hour parking at Parkhaus St Marien, 5 minutes walk away.

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